Changing demographics in higher education

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Interesting: (from the New York Times)

I’ve tried to focus this newsletter on those liminal spaces where the greater American narrative does not quite make sense. Much of this focus has been on the Asian American immigrant population, but I believe much of the analysis holds for Latino and Black immigrants as well. One area of inquiry into this mismatch between a binary way of thinking and the actual American population was education, where an increasing focus on equity has not only fallen out of line with families of all backgrounds but also triggered a nascent backlash movement, not just among the anti-critical race theory crusaders but also among Asian American populations in cities like New York and San Francisco.

It’s certainly worth arguing that these shifts are small and largely inconsequential, given that immigrants tend to live in big cities in solidly blue states, but what I see going forward is that as immigrant populations spread out to the suburbs and beyond, they will become less reliably Democrat for the very simple fact that their neighbors and communities will not be in blue strongholds. Given the razor-thin margins between Democrat and Republican rule in America, it is imperative that Democrats start to understand immigrant communities and begin to tailor a message of communal prosperity to them. The current zero-sum logic of equity, which goes as far as to label working-class Asian students as “white-adjacent” and comes up with fantastical reasons to link their academic success with white supremacy, must be changed, not only for electoral reasons but also because it simply does not make sense for the vast majority of families. The question isn’t so much whether progressives have overreached — radical measures are not bad by definition — but rather if the current slate of progressive reforms in education, and to a smaller extent policing, are actually good, progressive solutions and worth the fight, backlash be damned.

So what is a good radical idea?

Over the past year, I’ve also written on a few occasions about my belief in community colleges and the integral part they could play in creating a truly equitable education system. Much — not all — of the equity talk in American education suffers from a lack of imagination. The goal, for the most part, seems to be to keep all the hierarchies within the system and simply make the end result perfectly match the racial demographics of the country. This, I believe, is a catastrophic and ultimately impoverished way to think about education. Instead of worrying about the number of minority kids in elite colleges, someone truly committed to class equality should argue that these schools, which cater overwhelmingly to the wealthiest families in the world, should be stripped of the power they have over the education system through sizable hikes in endowment taxes that will hurt their coffers and provide funds that can be redistributed to public institutions. Pressuring state schools to take on more community college transfers would do more for racial and economic equity than any affirmative action program, and would cut down considerably on the cost of higher education. That such initiatives receive a fraction of the attention as tiny fluctuations in student demographics at elite schools shows just how addicted we all are to exclusivity and how resistant we are to actual change.

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